The Silent Retraumatisation of Sexual Abuse Victims We Don’t Talk About Enough

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“There is nothing untoward in his examination yet I am not in control and this touch is not wanted and it’s too much and I am unclothed and vulnerable and overwhelmed with triggers and the only escape I have in that moment is disassociation.
 
The switch flips; in less than one second I am mentally and emotionally no longer present, retraumatised by a simple and routine medical procedure deemed necessary to potentially save my life.
 
It takes me weeks to recover and find my way back to myself again.
 
Two years later, a reminder letter comes in the mail.
 
I throw it in the bin.”
 

I don’t often publish my articles on my blog, but I want to share this one with you today.

Having a Pap smear is an uncomfortable moment for most women. For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it’s nothing less than traumatic.

There is not enough help or support for those in this situation, with three out of four women denying themselves life-saving care because the fear of being retraumatised is greater than the fear of cervical cancer.

There needs to be more discussion, more awareness, more understanding, and more care for both victims of sexual abuse and violence and the people who care for them.

This article was incredibly difficult to write, but needs to be read.

Full article over at 10 daily today, link below x

Why A Routine Trip To The GP Leaves Me Mentally And Emotionally Shaken

 

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

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I lost my voice when I was seven;
buried in an unmarked grave
where all untold stories go to die.
I learned it’s quite a skill to hold
a lifetime of words beneath your tongue
and not choke on the debris of letters
that fester in the back of your throat;
to swallow truth like a hungry dog with
bared teeth;
willing another to not come close enough
to taste such foul feast upon their lips.
It turns out there is no minute of silence
for silence;
no funeral for people to dress in black
and eat jelly cakes
and cluck tongues over the tragic loss
of life taken too soon.
Innocence taken too soon.
There is only the sound of applause; let a
woman learn silently with all submissiveness.
I am thirty-four when I find my voice again,
yet it is not the first time I speak
which brings me to my knees,
but the first time I am heard.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

How We Break Free From Negative Cycles

Too often we find ourselves caught in negative cycles, either our own self-defeating patterns or in our relationships with others. Sometimes it can be a blind spot we don’t see, other times something we see but feel powerless to change or break. Either way, being trapped in these negative cycles shackles us to people who hold us back, to our past defeats, to history that repeats itself, to the versions of ourselves we desire to be free from. Staying in these cycles leaves us disempowered and feeling we have no control over our lives but are held at the mercy of other people or circumstances; forever pulled into a place not of our own choosing.

It takes strength, courage, determination and persistence to break these cycles, but we can never find the freedom to move forward until we consciously make the decision to do so. It isn’t something we can achieve through happy vibes and positive thinking, it takes more than that. It takes awareness and acknowledgement. It takes a decision to say, no more. It must be purposeful and mindful; a conscious decision we choose every day to move away from the negative cycles – from all that has held us back and held us down – and move toward the life we envision for ourselves.

Now is the perfect time to reflect on all that has held us back in the past year and make the decision to let go of that which no longer serves us well. To say, no more. No more will I be pulled back into those negative cycles. No more will I allow another to disempower or control me. No more will I believe I’m not deserving of freedom. No more will I believe I’m not worthy of the life I deserve.

K x

For My Fellow Survivors ❤️

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For my fellow survivors ❤️
 
It says on pill bottles as a disclaimer, do not operate heavy machinery. The irony in all of this, is trauma is heavy fucking machinery, which is to say, I’m not giving you permission. But if you ever decided it was too much and you wanted to rip yourself from the soil of this world, I would understand”
 
Sometimes, I feel like my heart is doing okay. And then, without warning, something wrenches it open and I come undone. I listened to this spoken word poem today and came completely and utterly undone. Because as people who have survived trauma, this is the kind of validation we need. We need to know it’s okay to feel what we feel, no matter how dark, no matter how terrifying, no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. Rarely do I allow myself that validation. Instead I tell myself I’m fine. I tell everyone else I’m fine. So goddamn fine. Except, some days I’m not fine.
 
Today I’m not fine.
 
There are days I still wake up so damn tired; beaten before the day has even begun. Beaten by the memories and the flashbacks and the triggers and the demons and the shame and the anxieties and the fears and the way these things seem to find me in the night while the rest of the world sleeps and leave me feeling like a small girl in a big world; so very alone and afraid. I woke up today like this; the graveyard of my heart dug open in the night and me, too weary to fight against it. To outrun it. To stay above it. To shovel the dirt upon it once more.
 
“You will feel broken. It is okay to feel broken. Broken is where the healing begins. This is where we begin. This is where we begin again, and again, and again.”
 
Healing doesn’t come in straight lines and even spaces. It is a wayward journey that brings us back to the places we need to be broken once again; that after the breaking, eventually, we will know the rising.
 
But for today, I am reminded it’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to begin again. Today, I am reminded I am not alone in this.
 
“You, survivor, are still here.”
 
I am still here. You are still here.
 
And by god, the world will see us bloom.

And I’m Not Sorry For Choosing Me

The more I begin to heal the less I find myself apologising for it.

It would be easy to say sorry.

Sorry for the ways I have pulled away.

Sorry for the ways I have let you down.

Sorry for the messages I have not replied to.

Sorry for the calls I have not answered.

Sorry for my absence.

Sorry for my silence.

Sorry I can no longer meet your expectations.

Sorry I can no longer meet your needs.

Sorry I can no longer put your needs above my own.

Except, I’m not sorry.

Because, the thing is, it isn’t me that needs to heal.

It’s the little girl within me; the wounded child that nobody protected. Or stood up for. Or put first. Or made to feel mattered.

The girl who was not heard, or seen.

The girl who grew up believing the needs of others were more important than her own.

That her body was not her own.

That her voice would never be heard.

That she wasn’t worth the respect of others.

That love was something to be earned.

That boundaries could be crossed by whoever so pleased.

That her value was not in what she could give, but only in what others could take.

I am fighting for her, because no one else ever did.

I am putting her first, because no one else ever did.

I am standing between her and the world; honouring her, protecting her, nurturing her, allowing her the time and space to mend the brokenness without more being taken when there is nothing left to give; without more of the world pulling her in every direction with its demands and expectations.

Because she matters. Because I matter.

I am choosing to heal the way I need to; my time, my way.

I am choosing me.

And I will no longer apologise for that.

– ©️ Kathy Parker 2018 –

Thank You for Teaching Me I Was Worth More Than You: An Open Letter to the One Who Nearly Broke Me, But Not Quite

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“You didn’t love her. You just didn’t want to be alone. Or maybe, maybe she was good for your ego. Or maybe she made you feel better about your miserable life. But you didn’t love her, because you don’t destroy the person that you love” (Grey’s Anatomy)

When I look back now, it’s hard to believe I ever thought you loved me. How desperate I must have been to call that love when in your hands I became so small; crushed by the heaviness of your fingers as they pressed into my skin, the imprint faded but still visible after all this time. How eroded my worth became with each crash of furious words that washed against the already worn breakwaters of my heart. How afraid I became of not just you, but of everything I once was that I no longer trusted myself to be, for fear I would take a wrong step and set off another landmine beneath the surface of your skin.

You left that day, stopping only to push the knife in a little deeper on your way out the door. The pain was so great I hoped to bleed out, right there on the floor where you left me. I wondered if I could survive what you had done to me; if I even wanted to. But resilience has always coursed through my veins faster than sorrow and though weak, I found the courage to pick myself up from the floor that day.

It all seems so long ago now. How far I have come since these pale scars were once open wounds. How distant the taste of bitterness upon my tongue now seems. I’ve long since stopped wanting to call, to write, to tell you of all the ways you nearly broke me, but not quite. Instead, I have come to realise should I ever pass by you on the street, there is only two words I would need to say.

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again settle for someone who can destroy a woman and call that love; who can not only justify their abuse through victim-blaming, but make a woman believe they actually deserved such abuse.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again be controlled by another in a relationship; that I am the keeper of my own life, my own choices and my own relationships and I’m entitled to live my life with freedom, and not be imprisoned by another person’s power over me.

Thank you for teaching me I need not compromise who I am and all I believe in order to be loved; that I do not need to scrape my knees on the ground of another’s approval, nor ever apologise for who I am to those who choose not to accept me regardless.

Thank you for teaching me I do not need another to complete me; that I am better off being alone than ever being with someone who does not love me with respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, acceptance.

Thank you for teaching me never to look back; for all the apologies that didn’t reach your eyes, for all the promises spoken through lying teeth, for all the times I did come back only to end up more shattered by you each time.

Thank you for helping me understand men like you never change.

Thank you for teaching me I deserve more than you.

Thank you for teaching me about love.

The kind of love you could never give.

The kind of love I am worth.

The kind of love I will only ever accept from another so long as they can love me the way I have finally learned to love myself.

When What Comes to Break Us, Actually Saves Us

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You were left so shattered by him; the way he tore in like a hurricane and ripped everything from you – your heart, your worth, your confidence, your hope.

You wondered how you would piece yourself together again when only broken remains lay your feet. Dazed, you picked them up, examined them, tried to place them side by side and make them fit. But they no longer did. Who you used to be was nowhere to be found in the wreckage he left behind; the only thing left was the grief over everything you had lost, everything he had taken from you, everything you once were and would never be again.

Through tears and regrets your weak hands fumbled in the mess that surrounded you; here and there you would pick up what few pieces you could find and hold them close to your chest until you eventually had enough to rebuild something of the life you once had.

You placed the pieces before you and stared at the chaos, defeated.

But soon, you began to notice the way the haphazard curves of the lines no longer looked amiss, but instead, wild and untamed. The way the colours and patterns came together not in a mess of confusion, but in a mosaic of abstract beauty. The way the cracks and flaws seemed less like weakness, and more like art; profound and perfect in their own right.

Filled with hope, you continued to dig through the remains, only using the best pieces to rebuild with; the pieces that were strong and resilient and beautiful and brave. Pieces you had once loved, but that had been lost and discarded by his careless hands.

Most importantly, pieces that carried no remnant of him.

You built until you were whole again; stronger than you had ever been, put back together with courage and resilience and worth and strength and the wisdom of one who has survived the storm.

From the brokenness came something new.

This is what we learn from those who break us.

That after the destruction, there is always the transformation.

And one day, my love, you will come to understand the beauty of a hurricane.

That sometimes what comes to break us, is actually what saves us.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

The Unravelled Heart, a profoundly true reflection on trauma, abuse, love, loss and healing, now available worldwide on Amazon http://amzn.to/2BIvFhp

There Will Always be Those who Throw Stones 

Then there are the ones that like to hold you to the mistakes of your past. Who will try and drag you back through your own shame and make you believe you don’t deserve the dream you have fought so damn hard your whole life to achieve.

Their words will be calculated – targeted missiles they will aim at the places they know will be the weakest; the places they know have been wounded before.

This is what they will tell you:

That the person you once were is who you will always be.

That the person you were at your worst is the most you will ever amount to.

That you will never be anything more than the mistakes you once made.

That you are worthless, hopeless, useless.

Don’t listen to them.

Because here’s the thing.

Nobody has the right to judge you.

Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.

Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity. To deny you the right to be human. To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.

Nobody has the right to take away your redemption. To take every damn drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.

We are not held captive to our yesterdays, to the person we once were when we knew no better. We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so damn much inside our fragile chests. We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.

We are not our past.

We are not our shame.

Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not see.

Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.

Forgiveness, grace, second chances: these are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity. When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement, and that this is how we offer love.

There will always be those who throw stones. Let them. For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.

Second Chances

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And it never really changes.
 
The words look different. The way they form a line this time that seems straight and stable; so well-crafted, so precise. There seems to be no faults, no cracks, no frayed edges, and you feel yourself drawn to the letters that fall seamlessly from his mouth and land without effort in the aperture of your heart.
 
But it never really changes.
 
You said there would be no more chances. That the last time was enough. You look down at the scars that had just started to blend into your skin, barely noticeable now. You try and remember what every one of those scars cost you. Except, this time the words look different, and you can’t.
 
He forces his way closer, and somewhere deep inside, you still believe in second chances. You weaken. After all, the words look different. This time will be different.
 
It never changes.
 
It doesn’t take long before the words begin to reshape; after all, he’s an expert in manipulation. They become familiar threads of anger, blame, guilt and shame that he weaves around you; a web of abuse he seeks to trap you inside so he can satiate his need for power and control.
 
You’ve been here before.
 
Nothing changes.
 
Except for you.
 
You changed.
 
You realise you don’t need this anymore. You have become wiser, braver, stronger in the places he once broke you. You have become sure, resilient, steady. You pulled yourself from the ground where he said you belonged and rose – a fighter, a warrior, a survivor.
 
You forgot. Just for a moment, you forgot. But now you take one last look over your shoulder and turn your face toward the sun and remember who you are.
 
You are fire, and you blaze with the fury of all you are worth.
 
And you are worth so much more than a love that was only ever abuse in disguise.
 
In honour of Domestic Violence Awareness Month ❤️
 
Butterfly Illustration courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals